James Heale James Heale

Will Vaughan Gething follow Truss and Yousaf?

Wales First Minister Vaughan Gething (Credit: Getty Images)

There’s something in the British waters right now – and it’s not Ed Davey on his paddleboard. After Liz Truss in Westminster and Humza Yousaf at Holyrood, could Vaughan Gething be the next leader of a UK government to find himself out of office in a record space of time?

The Welsh First Minister this evening lost a confidence vote in the 60-member Senedd by 29 votes to 27. Labour holds exactly half of the seats with 30 members, with 16 Tories, 13 representatives for Plaid Cymru and a solitary Liberal Democrat. Two of Gething’s backbenchers were off sick and thus missed tonight’s vote, which followed an afternoon of passionate debate in the Welsh parliament. 

Even before the vote, Welsh Labour figures close to Gething were arguing that this was not a binding vote and that his real mandate came from the Welsh people. Speaking afterwards Gething said that he was proud to be the First Minister of Wales and plans to ‘carry on’, having served less than 100 days in office. This insistence has not deterred his critics from demanding his head. ‘Vaughan Gething has lost the confidence of the people of Wales’ said Andrew RT Davies of the Welsh Conservatives. ‘He has lost the confidence of the Senedd.’ Gething has repeatedly criticised the UK government over the past five years for not ‘respecting’ Wales and its parliament. By failing to respect the outcome of today’s vote, he risks opening up Labour to allegations of hypocrisy .

Today’s drama comes after a scandal-plagued four months in office in which Gething has faced numerous questions about the £200,000 he accepted from a businessman who was twice convicted of environmental offences. That money was accepted during a tight leadership race in which Gething only narrowly triumphed over rival Jeremy Miles by 52 per cent to 48 per cent. That, arguably, was his ‘original sin’. Having won by such a narrow margin, Gething failed to then reach out to supporters of his rival. He thus never successfully stamped his authority on the party – leading to tonight’s humiliation.